ACUI is the professional home to thousands of campus community builders around the world. Primarily focused on the work of those within the college unions and student activities field, the Association strives to provide an inclusive, welcoming community for all those who choose to belong.


ACUI's mission is to support its members in the development of community through education, advocacy, and the delivery of services.

Vision Statement

ACUI is committed to becoming the innovative, responsive, and inclusive leader in creating progressive education, training, and research in college unions and student activities to excel in meeting member needs, impacting student learning, and enhancing campus communities.

Core Values

These values guide our work: unconditional human worth, joy, learning, caring community, innovation, diversity, and integrity.

ACUI's Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

ACUI provides programs and services that actively affirm, embrace, and infuse multiple systems, values, and cultures.

Driven by principles of mutual respect, common purpose, and equity for all persons, the Association is committed to creating and maintaining a sense of community and inclusion for all its constituents and raising awareness regarding issues of oppression. 

Our goal is to enhance the state of inclusiveness within the Association by engaging in ongoing processes:

  • Systemic acts of inclusion and social justice at all levels of the Association.
  • Purposeful and authentic communication, informed by our core competencies.
  • Continuous reexamination of structures, programs, and services for inclusiveness.
  • Education and experiences that enhance participants’ intercultural proficiency.

ACUI values diversity, including that of race, color, religion, ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family status, veteran status, age, national origin, culture, appearance, generation, caste/class, ancestry, political beliefs, education, job function, and institution type, and does not engage in or tolerate discrimination in any of its activities or operations. Accordingly, all who are involved in the Association as volunteers, employees or guests of the organization, shall use practices and modes of communication reflective of this commitment.


As one of the oldest higher education associations, ACUI dates back to 1914 when it was founded in the Midwestern United States by six students and one faculty advisor who were interested in learning how other universities were managing college union organizations.

Early Years

Professional staff and student leaders met annually to share ideas and discuss common challenges. Diversity can be noted even in those early years as the Association’s first president was J.B. Bickersteth of the University of Toronto and an early leader, Edith Ouzts Humphreys of Cornell University, would go on to publish the Association’s first book. Now namesakes of ACUI’s highest award, Porter Butts and Edgar Whiting ran the organization, keeping its finances, planning conferences, lobbying the government, and publishing resources.

A Movement

Following World War II, as campus enrollments surged, college unions were built to meet students’ cocurricular needs. ACUI began holding seminars and regional programs to reach its expanding membership. It even had an architect available for consultation as institutions constructed new facilities. In 1969, ACUI hired its first paid staff member, Chester Berry, and established an office at Stanford University. He would be the first of five chief executives to oversee the Association during its history.


In the late 20th century, ACUI became more like the association we know today. In 1976, Shirley Bird Perry of the University of Texas at Austin became the first woman president and in 1984 LeNorman Strong of Cornell University became the first president of color. Also during this time, identity and equity concerns led to the creation of interest-based committees and task forces. Meanwhile, the Association’s programs grew to focus on student leadership, many types of recreational activities, and professional managerial concerns such as budgeting, renovation, and staffing.

A New Century

In the 2000s, ACUI reinvented itself as a knowledge-based organization and developed core competencies. In addition to educational programs, research and new services such as Procure and Promos help to stretch the benefit of membership. Today, ACUI is a nonprofit 501(c)3 headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana. Its workforce includes 25 paid staff members and more than 470 volunteers.